Amsterdam's data centre industry resumes activity
Last year, the Dutch capital of Amsterdam that it was placing a moratorium on all data centre permits issued within Haarlemmermeer and Amsterdam, the two districts that make up the city’s metropolitan area. This week, that moratorium came to an end. The decision to reopen
The College of Amsterdam gave the green light to a set of proposals developed with the DDA, which will allow for investment and the construction of new facilities to resume. Haarlemmermeer and Amsterdam have each earmarked four specific campuses for data centers: Polanenpark, Schiphol-Rijk, Schiphol Trade Park and Corneliahoeve in Haarlemmermeer; and Amstel III (South-East), Port/Port City (North-West), Schinkelkwartier (South) and Science Park (East) in Amsterdam itself.
The city is one of the largest data centre and IT hubs in europe. When the moratorium came into effect last year, Amsterdam was home to, and the country’s digital economy makes up 60% of the nation’s GDP, as well as providing 3.3mn jobs. As data centre developers bought up more and more land throughout the city, demands for power and real estate were reportedly out of control, dramatically exceeding the city’s capacity and eroding its objects concerning sustainable energy. In the summer of 2018, the city experienced several key power failures due in part to data centre consumption, and the moratorium took effect in July.
Now, the municipalities have lifted the ban on new data centres, but operators and developers find themselves faced with new sets of regulations. Both municipalities have set a power budget. Haarlemmermeer expects an average annual growth of 70MVA is assumed, and has set given the sector a ceiling of 750MVA to use until 2030. Meanwhile, Amsterdam itself expects annual average growth of 67MVA with a total availability of 670MVA until 2030.
The measures also seem targeted to discourage hyperscale projects in favour of more distributed, edge networks. Data centres under 5MVA built outside of the campuses demarcated by Amsterdam and Haarlemmermeer will be exempt from the power budgeting, which could see Amsterdam become a leading test bed for distributed data centre networks over the next decade.
Currently, the only major data centre construction project in the city is being undertaken by . The company has a long-standing relationship with Amsterdam and, last week, began construction on a 40MVA expansion to its existing Amsterdam West facility.
In a press release, the company insists that “In contrast to the recent moratorium on granting new data centre planning consents, importantly Global Switch Amsterdam East is a known project with Gemeente Amsterdam (City of Amsterdam) and is not impacted either by the widely announced ‘building stop’ or affected by power availability across the Metropolitan Region of Amsterdam.”
Regardless of Global Switch’s relationship to the ban, the company will soon be joined by a wave of new data centre projects driving foreign investment throughout the city.
NUS and NTU launch cooling project for tropical data centres
The National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), have announced a project in an attempt to source and develop new cooling solutions for data centres located in tropical areas. According to the companies, the programme costs S$23mn (US$17.1mn) and plans to research, build and test innovative and sustainable cooling solutions.
The Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed (STDCT)
The NUS and NTU say that the Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed (STDCT) will act as a research point and innovation hub for the project. Facebook, along with the National Research Foundation Singapore (NRF), is also involved, providing funding for the programme. Further support from other partners includes the Infocomm Media Development Authority, Ascenix, CoolestDC Keppel Data Centres, Red Dot Analytics, and New Media Express.
Commenting on working with the companies, Facebook Vice President of Infrastructure, Alex Johnson, said: “We are excited about the opportunity to partner NUS, NTU, Keppel Data Centres and the CoolestSG community to develop innovative solutions that reduce the carbon footprint and energy consumption of the average data centre, particularly those located in tropical areas like Singapore”.
The NTU and NUS highlight that Singapore houses 60% of Southeast Asia’s total data centre market, and aims to supply 12% of the country’s total energy needs by 2030. This results in the need to reduce the carbon footprints and power consumption of data centres, meaning more innovative cooling solutions are required, the NTU and NUS said.
Professor Chen Thuan, Deputy President of Research & Technology at the NUS, said: “Data centres are a critical enabler of the digital economy, but the average data centre can exert a significant environmental burden. Aligned with RIE 2025, sustainability is a key research focus of NUS, and our researchers have deep expertise in developing integrated solutions for tropical, urban and Asian settings”.
How will the Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed (STDCT) help to provide cooling solutions?
According to the NUS and NTU, the STDCT will be built using equipment such as a novel desiccant-coated heat exchanger and a StatePoint Liquid Cooling System (SPLC) designed by both Nortek Air Solutions and Facebook. The institutions also say they will adopt chip-level hybrid cooling to ensure servers remain cool.
Furthermore, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) will aim to manage the “smart operations” of the technologies so that the data centres are water and power efficient, as well as able to preserve equipment and servers.
The NTU and NSU said in a joint statement the combination of the cooling technologies could reduce energy consumption “significantly” and greenhouse gas emissions by up to 25%, compared to traditional air-cooled data centres. If adopted industry-wide across the entire tropical region, the energy usage of the data centre industry could potentially be lowered by at least 40%”, the companies said.
The STDCT is expected to be operational by 1 October 2021.